Gap season program
Spend your gap year in Missoula, MT, digging into food, farming, and community.
summary - gap season program
Dig into food, farming, and the fabric of the Missoula community in our Gap Season program. You’ll learn the basics of community agriculture first-hand, and make a real difference in many lives – including your own. Live at the confluence of two mighty rivers in a community of artists, writers, and outdoor enthusiasts. Become part of the Garden City Harvest family. We can’t wait to welcome you to our farms and gardens.
Duration: 3-6 months during the growing season, April - October
Application Deadline: Rolling, at least 8 weeks before the date you’d like to begin
Costs: Per month: $1,500, plus $600 room and board. Total per month: $2,100
College Credit: You can earn college credit each season through the University of Montana for an additional cost.
The nitty-gritty - gap season program
While we ask that you spend at least three months with us (and up to six), we are flexible on the exact time you arrive. We do have a limited number of gap season spots, so it is best to get your application in early. Below are the details of the program. If you have more questions, please check out our Family Gap Season FAQ page.
What You Will Learn
While the PEAS Farm is part of a college curriculum and coursework, some of the most important things you learn are independence, self-worth, balance, and initiative. The PEAS Farm is recreated anew each season as we welcome a new group of student leaders from the University of Montana Environmental Studies program (both graduate and undergraduates) to the farm. We have high expectations for our Gap Season Students. For many, this is the first time they are living independently, biking to work, making food for a group, creating a schedule. They take ownership of the farm: learning and working, side-by-side with college undergraduate and graduate students, youth in our development program, and community volunteers.
Agriculture – You will learn the basics of small scale agriculture crop care for the major vegetable crop families. Every vegetable farm faces the same general sets of issues, but the answers are as diverse as the farms themselves. You will learn the key issues, and come to an understanding of how we meet those issues, in our specific context. In terms of hands on skills, you will sow seeds, transplant crops, weed, irrigate, mulch, trellis, harvest, care for crops post-harvest, set up for CSA pick-ups, interact with the public and learn to cook fresh vegetables for a group.
Education – Our Farm to School program is based at the PEAS Farm, where we host over 2,500 students and teachers each season for field trips and summer camps. Farm to School also works with public schools to create, maintain, and teach in school gardens. Gap Year students are encouraged to take part in several facets of our Farm to School programing.
Sustainable Solutions - We strive to be as efficient as possible in terms of resource use, and all of our sites grow and change over time. You can check out our solar arrays, coolers, delivery systems, water catchment etc. If this is something you are really into, you can dig in while you’re here
Nonprofit Management – We invite Gap Season students to learn the ins-and-outs of our midsized nonprofit, Garden City Harvest, by spending time in our office working alongside our Executive Director, Development Director, Community Outreach Director, and Office Coordinator as we plan events, write grants, work with donors and our board of directors, and plan for the future.
Marketing – Write blog posts, help create a dynamic Instagram feed, take part in event planning; in other words: be part of telling the Garden City Harvest story. Storytelling invites people in, inspires, and spreads the word. This is a great place for creative minds to make an impact.
Capstone Project – To tie together your work with us, you can choose to design a capstone project. Working with a staff mentor, you can create a project that meets your goals and our mission.
Earn College Credit
If you choose to, you can earn college credit during your time here. If you do choose the For-Credit option, your schedule will include Wednesday lectures at the PEAS farm (if you do spring or fall) and Friday lectures and field trips (if you do summer). In spring and fall the UM students at the PEAS farm come at different times to work on the farm, but all return to the farm Wednesday afternoons for a linked section – a lecture for all the students that semester. These classes focus on the biological, agricultural, and cultural significance of the specific work on the farm right then. In summer, we have similar style lectures, but a different syllabus, and each Friday a field trip to a farm in the area follows these talks. We consider vegetable crop biology, economics, insects, farm technology, etc. On our field trips, we visit orchards, dairies, ranches, grain farms, and other vegetable farms. The summer course also goes on an overnight field trip where we camp below the white cliffs of the Missouri river and visit with pioneering organic grain farmer, Bob Quinn. For registration and credit details please email Josh: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet Your Instructor, Mentor, and Farmer, Josh Slotnick
Josh Slotnick is an award winning speaker, teacher, farmer, poet, and mastermind of Garden City Harvest’s Gap Season program. His life’s work is to build cooperative community development with public agriculture. He first learned student farming at the University of Santa Cruz, at their CASFS farm, then went on to gain his graduate degree in agriculture from Cornell University. He brought the student farm to concept to the University of Montana, and is a co-founder of Garden City Harvest, in 1996.
Your schedule will have you work with each of our programs. 9 - noon will be at the PEAS Farm everyday. The afternoons will be with a community garden, neighborhood farm, or school garden. That means you will work with several of our employees while you are with us. Here's a sampling of those folks. Check out our staff page for the whole crew.
Dave Victor, Farmer
Orchard Gardens Farm Director Dave Victor is known as the mad farm scientist of Garden City Harvest. He loves to teach while you work, think through problems together and share his vast knowledge of plant systems, soil ecology, and more!
Jason Mandala, Educator
Jason teaches kindergarten through graduate students. He runs the Farm to School program which encompasses school gardens, educational farm field trips, and in class farmer visits in winter. He also teaches a class on farm education at the University of Montana. He knows how to engage kids, and has converted over 10,000 kids to love kale!!!!
Emily Kern, Community Gardens Outreach Manager
Learn the ins and outs of community gardens, volunteer management, and outreach with Emily. She manages our volunteer leadership teams at each of our 10 gardens, plans events, and gets a lot of the community involved in our community gardens. Plus, she knows a lot about the science and art of gardening (she even has her own garden plot).